IRISH silver carries its own cachet and, as in England and Scotland, pieces with rare provincial hallmarks are always more sought-after.

But, even allowing for this, the £6500 paid out for this 6oz soup ladle at Christie's South Kensington's January 12 Interiors auction seems pretty hefty.

Bright engraved to the handle, and in nice crisp condition, said CSK's Kate McKenzie, its key details are the marks for Patrick Connell, Limerick. It dates to around 1785.      

There was enough pre-sale interest to indicate to the auctioneers that the £1200-1800 estimate was likely to be doubled. In the event competition between an Irish collector and an Irish dealer pushed the piece to a multi-estimate sum.